In December, The Orlando Sentinel turned its attention to Valencia’s successful 10-year-old partnership with the University of Central Florida, a highly successful transfer program that UCF and Valencia officials named DirectConnect to UCF.
Through the agreement, students who receive their associate degrees from nearby state colleges gain guaranteed admission into UCF to finish their bachelor’s degrees. The six colleges are Valencia, Seminole State, Daytona State, Lake-Sumter State, Eastern Florida State and the College of Central Florida.
Lauded by education experts around the nation, DirectConnect to UCF has been featured on PBS NewsHour and NPR’s The Takeaway, in Politico Magazine, the National Journal, Atlantic Monthly and the Washington Post. Sentinel education reporter Gabrielle Russon examined the program from the perspective of Valencia graduate Pamela Garcia — who used DirectConnect to earn an engineering degree — as well as a DirectConnect advisor, who helps students manage the transition.
Pam Garcia’s friends teased her, asking why it was taking her practically forever to finish college.
Garcia paid for her classes one at a time, juggling multiple jobs. She sold men’s khakis, Lucky Jeans. She worked as a bank teller. She tried real estate. Whatever it took.
Garcia’s education, one that required grit over nine years, is a victory by all accounts. The young woman from Puerto Rico with eight siblings earned her bachelor’s degree in engineering at the University of Central Florida through the DirectConnect program.
“I wanted to prove to myself I could do it — one way or another, however long it took,” said Garcia, 29, who lives in Melbourne.
Garcia is among students who have earned 26,822 UCF degrees through DirectConnect since 2008-09.
Click here to read more of the Orlando Sentinel article about DirectConnect to UCF.